TED Conversations

Scot Wilcox

TEDCRED 10+

This conversation is closed.

Do right and wrong exist?

I'm curious about objective right and wrong. If you believe in God, this is a no-brainer. Some things are wrong, some things are right, simply because God says so and He knows. But if you don't believe in God, can you still believe in objective morality? I personally don't think you can. I mean, what do you base it off of? How do you find out what's objectively right or wrong? (By objective I mean "existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality." from dictionary.com)
Sure, there's subjective morality. Any idea of right or wrong come up with by a human is by definition subjective. That's all well and good. Problem is that it only applies to people who believe in it and it gives them no authority to proclaim anything as "what we should be doing." Very often everybody disagrees with each other and we don't get anywhere. (Just look at Congress for an example of this.)
Maybe you disagree with me and you think there is objective morality but no God. That's fine. I would like to ask you to answer a question for me though. Let's pick an easy one. Why is rape objectively wrong? Don't misunderstand me, I can't think of a single instance where rape wouldn't be wrong. I believe very strongly that sexual abuse is one of the greatest evils in the world. Why is it evil? If you can answer me without using a God-based or subjective argument, I'll concede the point.
That point is this: Without God, there is no such thing as right and wrong, only the things we call right and wrong. And since nobody can agree on what to call what, we're all in a lot of trouble.

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Feb 20 2013: I would disagree with your statement "there is no such thing as right or wrong, only the things we call right or wrong..".

    When you've expressed your own perspective on rape by saying " I believe very strongly that sexual abuse is one of the greatest evils in the world. ", you have already answered your question. Then you ask "Why is it evil ? ". I'd love to hear about your reasons in believing so if you really think that "nothing is right or wrong objectively". Its because there is a reason for you to believe in such a way. No good reason can then justify a rape or any kind of sexual abuse, even though it may be the right thing for the ones who commit such acts.

    I don't believe in God completely as I'm an agnostic. But what I believe is, even without God, there is something called your own "consciousness" that will always be an "observer" for whatever you do. So, as far as I think, its humanly impossible to be completely objective while making a judgement on what is right or wrong. Your heart and mind will always give you reasons to believe in whatever you may want to. However, there would always be things that are fundamentally wrong even without any reference to God.

    So to answer your objective question, to me, even without God, there are many things that are inherently wrong with what they represent rather than their after effects.
    • Feb 20 2013: I personally believe in God, so yes, I already have an explanation as to why rape is evil. What I wanted to know was if anyone had an explanation that didn't involve God.
      • thumb
        Feb 21 2013: My reasons were independent of any belief in God. What I had said was; "even without God, there is something called your own "consciousness" that will always be an "observer" for whatever you do.."

        To point out again: , "there are many things that are inherently wrong with what they represent"

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.